Arias attorneys seek jury sequestration
PHOENIX (AP) – Jodi Arias’ lawyers are asking a judge to sequester the jury in her second trial to shield the panel from the intense publicity that enveloped her first trial, which ended with a murder conviction but without a sentence.
Arias was convicted of first-degree murder May 8 in the 2008 stabbing and shooting death of boyfriend Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. The same jury failed to reach a decision on whether she should get the death penalty, setting the stage for a second penalty phase.
While the judge has yet to set a new trial date, Arias’ attorneys filed a motion this week seeking to have the new panel sequestered “to ensure that the jury is not exposed to community and/or media influence.”
The motion filed Thursday cites thousands of television news shows and newspaper articles about Arias throughout her roughly five-month trial, as well as a recent Lifetime movie about the case that attorneys said attracted 3.1 million viewers.
Arias’ lawyers claim the same intense publicity will no doubt come with a second penalty phase and will hinder her ability to get a fair trial.
“This integrity is in the most danger of being compromised when the process is contaminated by outside influences,” the attorneys wrote. “Given what took place in the last trial and the propensity for history to repeat itself, it is certainly beyond legitimate dispute that the threat to the integrity of the retrial is severe.”
Prosecutors have not yet filed a response.
The motion comes on the heels of several others filed recently. One seeks to have the retrial moved out of the Phoenix metropolitan area because of excessive publicity and to prohibit live television coverage. Another motion filed last month seeks to have the judge compel all jurors eventually seated in the second trial to reveal their Twitter user names so Arias’ lawyers can monitor their accounts to be sure they’re not communicating about the case.
Under Arizona law, while Arias’ murder conviction stands, prosecutors have the option of pursuing a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to get a death sentence. If the second jury fails to reach a verdict, the death penalty would be removed as an option, and the judge would sentence Arias to ether spend her entire life behind bars or be eligible for release after 25 years.
Arias, 33, admitted she killed Alexander, but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her. Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.
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